tennis elbow

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what is tennis elbow?

Tennis Elbow is a medical term for inflammation of the tendons outside the elbow that connect with the forearm muscles outside the elbow. Playing tennis and racquet sports most commonly leads to this condition, and not surprising people outside athletic professions are prone to its risks.

When the forearm muscles are overused due to repeated motions carried out forcibly, they lead to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow. Tennis elbow symptoms worsen as the person ages, and this condition is progressive by nature.

Most people develop tennis elbow due to their respective professions which include heavy weightlifting or repetitive motions of the wrist and forearm while rare cases of tennis elbow causes are said to be unknown.

You can learn how to treat tennis elbow at home through self-care tips like taking sufficient rest, using ice packs and over-the-counter pain reliever. However, a cure for tennis elbow will depend on its diagnosis by a certified doctor and a physical examination.

Imaging tests and X-rays may be done if your doctor thinks something else is the cause. Common tennis elbow causes improve on their own with self-care measures and proper tennis elbow exercises, however, severe cases of this medical condition require extensive surgery.

The tennis elbow treatment includes medications, tennis elbow physiotherapy, extracorporeal shock wave therapy and surgical procedures.

types of tennis elbow

According to tennis elbow definition, there are three types of tennis elbow conditions based on the category of pain the patient feels. They are:

  • Muscle Pain – Knots in any of the six different muscles attached to the bones of your elbow contribute to a tender pain.
  • Tendon – Inflammation or microscopic wear and tear in the tendons where they attach to the bones of the elbow.
  • Nerve Pain– Pressure on the radial nerve which runs from your neck through the armpit leads to tennis elbow nerve pain.

what are some of the tennis elbow causes?

According to medical statistics, tennis elbow affects people between the ages of 30 to 50. Some cases of tennis elbow are rare in people where the causes are unknown or medically termed as ‘insidious.’ Here are some of the other causes of tennis elbow in patients:

  • Contracting the forearm muscles which are used to lift the hand and the wrist repeatedly. This leads to a series of microscopic tears in tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the bony area of your elbow on the outside.
  • Use of improper striking technique in tennis and similar racquet-based sports such as badminton and squash or the use of faulty sports equipment
  • Typing on the computer without breaks and any activities which involve fine motor movements such as drawing, painting, using the scissors, etc.
  • Manual physical work which involves heavy weightlifting or the repetitive use of tools like the shears in gardening or rollers in decorating
  • Any other activities which involve repeatedly bending the elbow such as playing musical instruments like the violin and throwing sports like javelin and discus.
  • Using the forearm muscles after a long period

diagnosis of tennis elbow

The primary method of tennis elbow diagnosis is through a physical examination by the doctor in the clinic where he asks you to straighten your wrist and fingers with your arm fully straight to look for signs of pain.

Common questions related to your medical history, recreational sports activity and occupational factors may be asked. Your doctor may additionally ask you to undergo the following diagnostics to rule out other possible causes of tennis elbow symptoms-

  • X-Ray Scans– X-rays are used to rule out arthritis and bone disease by rendering clear images of dense structures like bones
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – MRI scans are used to pinpoint issues related to herniated disks or finding out whether there’s any arthritis in the neck. These conditions are known for developing arm pain.
  • Electromyography (EMG) – Electromyography (EMG) is used for determining any causes of nerve pain through the diagnosis of any symptoms of nerve compression diagnosis.

tennis elbow treatment

Tennis elbow is a self-limiting condition which means mild symptoms may go away on their own, given rest and time. Severe cases of tennis elbow may lead to surgical procedures and invasive treatments. The different tennis elbow treatment options are-

  • Medication – Your doctor may prescribe you tennis elbow relief medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and painkillers such as paracetamol for dealing with mild pain caused by tennis elbow. You may be prescribed topical NSAIDs as creams , tablets, or gels and be advised to use them in conjunction with tennis elbow remedies at home like stopping any activities which worsen the pain.
  • Physical Therapy – Your doctor may refer you to a certified healthcare professional or a physiotherapist for tennis elbow home treatment. These healthcare professionals use manual therapy techniques like massaging and manipulation to improve blood flow to your forearm muscles. Additionally, tennis elbow exercises are demonstrated to teach proper use of the forearm muscles, tennis elbow stretches, and how to prevent injuries. Short-term physiotherapy treatments may entail the use of orthoses like braces, bandages or splints for effective treatment.
  • Steroid Injections – According to tennis elbow definition, steroid injections are a type of medication containing a manmade version of cortisol which are used for treating musculoskeletal issues. These are typically administered with the use of local anaesthesia for numbing pain.
  • Surgery – Surgical procedure is the last resort when all other tennis elbow treatment options fail and the condition progresses from mild to severe.

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